Monday, January 29, 2007

Best Team Ever: 1985 Chicago Bears

Before the current Super Bears fully take over center stage, a quick nod and some facts about the greatest team of all time, and its dominant Super Bowl performance.

1985 Bears playoff resume:
Bears 21-Giants 0
Bears 24-Rams 0
Bears 46-Patriots 10

- Total yards given up in the three games: 434
- Average gain by opponent per play: 2.6
- Third downs converted: 3 for 36

There are always know-nothing doubters. Even the 1985 Bears' bulletin board wasn't empty -- posted was an article by a Boston columnist headlined "Chicago will choke again."

The Patriots broke the first Super Bowl record -- Tony Franklin kicked a 36-yard field goal just 1:19 in. The kick was set up by Walter Payton's fumble on the game's 2nd play. Jim McMahon said: "The fumble was my fault. I made the wrong call. I put him in a bad situation."

The dream of sweeping the playoffs without allowing a point was over, but so was the game, very quickly.

"I looked up at the message board," Mike Singletary said, "and it said that 15 of the 19 teams that scored first won the game. I thought, yeah, but none of those 15 had ever played the Bears."

By the end of the 1st quarter, it was Bears 13-Patriots 3. At the end of the half, Bears 23-Patriots 3.

Though technically, the Bears should only have been up 20-3, if not for a mistake by referee Red Cashion. With the clock winding down on the Bears, before Red Cashion could put a ball in play, Punky QB Jim McMahon threw it out of bounds. Cashion walked off a penalty against the Bears but failed to run off 10 seconds, which would have ended the half. Instead, Kevin Butler was able to add 3 more for the Bears.

New England trotted into the locker room with -19 yards and it wasn't going to get much better, despite the Patriots pulling Quarterback Tony Eason (0-6) for long-time guy Steve Grogan.

In the end, the Bears would allow 7 yards rushing in Super Bowl XX. The Bears very likely would have beaten the Steelers record for fewest yards allowed (119), which had been set 11 years before.

Buddy Ryan mercifully pulled all of the defensive starters with 9:43 left in the game and a 44-10 lead. To that point, the Patriots had gained 81 yards. They gained 42 more yards, to finish at 123. The Patriots wouldn't score on the 2nd string. Henry Waechter's safety to make it an even 46-10 would be the only other score.

The Bears racked up 7 sacks:

Otis Wilson 2
Richard Dent 1.5
Steve McMichael 1
Dan Hampton 1
Henry Waechter 1
Wilber Marshall .5

Not only were the Patriots embarrassed on the scoreboard, their sportsmanship was also embarrassing.

Cornerback Dave Duerson: "When Les Frazier and Mike Singletary got hurt, the Patriots were cheering and patting each other on the back. When their tight end (Lin Dawson) went out on a stretcher, our whole defense all clapped and cheered for him. They were a cheap organization that showed no class."

The saddest part of this Super Bowl, of course, as Coach Ditka has since discussed, was that Walter Payton did not score any of the Bears' 4 rushing TDs. McMahon ran in 2 TDs (no pass TDs) and FB Matt Suhey ran one in.

The most famous TD was Refrigerator Perry scoring from 1 yard out and nearly blowing the head off Patriot Larry McGrew in the process. Earlier in the game, Ditka had rolled the Fridge out to throw a goal-line pass, which ended in a sack.

Full perspective on Payton's not scoring in this game wouldn't come for a few more years. The World Champion Bears were one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Nearly everyone expected that Payton, even in the twilight of his career, would get a couple more chances to score a Super Bowl TD in coming years.

Unfortunately, that did not come to pass and Payton's Super Bowl career stats would end at 22 carries for 61 yards. It was the one blemish on the greatest season any NFL team has ever had.

Bears 46, Patriots 10

NE- FG Franklin 36, 1:19
CHI- FG Butler 28, 5:40
CHI- FG Butler 24, 13:34
CHI- Suhey 11 run (Butler kick), 14:37

CHI- McMahon 2 run (Butler kick), 7:36
CHI- FG Butler 24, 15:00

CHI- McMahon 1 run (Butler kick), 7:38
CHI- Phillips 28 interception return (Butler kick), 8:44
CHI- Perry 1 run (Butler kick), 11:38

NE- Fryar 8 pass from Grogan (Franklin kick), 1:46
CHI- safety Waechter, 9:24


azibuck said...

Who the hell wrote this? What a sappy ode.

Not that I disagree. Has NFLN given them their blessing? I was thinking they'd pick a Steeler or 49er team.

I'm not sure, but I don't think they had a 10-second runoff back in that day of age.

dhort said...

This looks like the kind of link that won't work, but it's to a Jan 27, 1986 article.

I think you're right that there wasn't a specific rule like there is now. That McMahon was always thinking.

"Later, McNally said that, under league rules, when a team out of timeouts deliberately causes a penalty in order to stop the clock in the final 10 seconds of either half, the official in charge should immediately signal the end of the first half."

freen said...

I'd like to see Cedric Benson go "over the top" for a score on Sunday, as a tribute to Walter.

Ced seems to go out of his way to initiate contact with potential tacklers (when in doubt, run them over), and that's something that Walter really would've appreciated.